What if?

I do not know many of the people who have been charged with criminal wrongdoing following the Vitals inquiry by Magistrate Gabriella Vella...

I do not know many of the people who have been charged with criminal wrongdoing following the Vitals inquiry by Magistrate Gabriella Vella. I would find it very hard to believe that an €11 million inquiry found nothing of substance and yet many people who are protagonists in the inquiry have argued forcibly that they have done nothing wrong.

These sentiments were expressed by Joseph Muscat and repeated by the former deputy prime minister Chris Fearne.

Now let me not discuss Muscat, and for a minute focus on Fearne.

One can argue that Fearne is politically responsible for what went on in this doomed project given his role as health minister after 2016. Nonetheless, political responsibility is not within the remit of the courts, the police or the Attorney General to decide. It is the job of the media and the political parties to determine who is politically responsible and what repercussions should follow.

The National Audit Office reports on Vitals found no wrong doing whatsoever in Fearne’s regard and yet the charges emanating from the inquiry declare that Fearne is criminally responsible as are so many others. Thos who have public spoken about the charges they face, have insisted they did nothing wrong.

These include auditor Chris Spiteri who argued that he was an auditor doing his job and was not involved in any criminal activity.

If what is being said is true then there will be eggs flying at various faces.

The worst part is when people who willingly testified in front of Magistrate Vella and were told they do not need legal assistance since they were not being investigated or charged.

They only discovered their predicament after the charge sheets were leaked and had their assets frozen.

Draconian action against criminals is always welcome, but the presumption of innocence or the correct approach to criminal action is a right.

There is little doubt that the Vitals/Steward deal that deprived the Maltese of a better health service and squandered millions in wasted tax payer’s money.

But the inquiry failed to appreciate that the business plan and financial due diligence and bid bond gave the chosen bidders (there were three bidders) a green light to move ahead. The audit firm that anointed the ‘band of conmen” is perhaps the most reputable of all the firms. I do not see their name in the list of accused.

The thing that worries me apart from having innocent individuals dragged into the court is the devaluation of the Vitals case from a political perspective. Vitals was a sell-out. And worse still the checks and balances that were supposed to be in place to monitor the commitments and targets and time lines of this project were inexistent.

But that holds for so many other projects that government initiated.

The PL adopted an intelligent strategy when introducing the Vitals project. In a press conference with the media in 2016 Ram Tumuluri was assisted by Mark Brincat a respected gynaecologist and the noew deceased Albert Fenech who was a cardiologist and a former PN.

There was sweet talk about partnerships with American hospitals such as Walter Reed Medical centre. And then there was talk of a €220 million investment. Tumuluri as we now know was a professional bullshitter.

But the truth is that the people at that press conference on his side and on the media side could not see through him.

I hope for the love of sweet God that the investigation will provide enough evidence to nail those who have broken the law and flouted every chapter of the Criminal Code.

But if the investigation is a treatise in circumstantial evidence then defence lawyers are going to have a field day and the accused are most probably going to walk out of court with more than a smile on their face.

For some this not enough. Those who are innocent and not guilty have to live with their new reality. The Alfred Camilleris of this world may be one them. Some of the individuals being charged I cannot believe were involved in criminal activity.

Vitals was a scandal and the people who brokered the deal knew that the conmen should answer for their actions - politically. Some have already but those who acted in good faith or were naive bystanders should not be taken to hell and back.

I have always and consistently spoken my mind, I do not see why I should remain silent now.

While flying down from Poland after three uncomfortable days with no sleep accompanying EP President Roberta Metsola on an interesting visit in Ukraine, I saw an online story of how Spain-based blogger Mark Camilleri was to be awarded a €30,000 consultancy with the Labour government.

I know for a fact that the proposal to have a such a deal was drawn up by a senior political figure in the Labour government. And that Mark Camilleri had already started to give the impression to others in Maltese publishing houses that he was being enlisted, by the same government he accuses of being scum, to help them out. How a financial mess like Camilleri can help other businesses survive is beyond anyone’s belief.

I had no idea that the story was being written or was to appear on MaltaToday. I only know that Mark Camilleri scribbles and bothers ministers and asks them for financial support as he had asked me for €100,000 before publishing privileged communication leaked to him by Jason Azzopardi, the failed politician who now works for big business.

Camilleri believes that he is owed a living because he runs a blog from Spain that is driven by hate and bile.

Unlike him I did not escape from my home country and neither do I tell my journalists not to write or ask relevant questions to Robert Abela; or not to write hard hitting editorials about this administration.

At age 61 I continue to work, seven days a week and employ over 26 full time media workers and another 10 part-time media workers.

Mark Camilleri believes he can emulate Daphne Caruana Galizia. With all due respect, Caruana Galizia never spent all her day smoking and neither did she beg and write to Labour ministers to ask for financial assistance. She did not accept a top job as a CEO on the Book Council after being offered the opportunity by Joseph Muscat in 2013. She did not run away abroad with the excuse that she was scared of the authorities. She was nasty at times but she had style and was highly intelligent and she had real balls. Camilleri has none of these.

Finally, the very idea that someone in Labour concocted this financial proposition for Camilleri is contemptible.

Camilleri is cruel and dangerous. He embraces the art of odium. There are politicians and others who are scared of him but I am not. I am only scared of those spineless politicians who fall apart when faced with his persistent demands for money and more money.